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A new project at the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) seeks to better understand the role of software in scientific research by linking mentions of software in published papers to data repositories focused on software and research funding. 

Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the project is led by Jinseok Kim, Research Assistant Professor at IRIS.

Kim said that connecting instances of software in published papers with software repositories like GitHub and the IRIS-UMETRICS dataset, which contains data on thousands of grant-funded projects, will shed new light on how research software is produced. 

“Once those linkages are made, we can better understand how research funding, paper authorship, researcher demographics, and software development interact during the production of scientific knowledge and discovery,” Kim said.

The tools to make these links will be open source when complete.

IRIS Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, is a co-investigator on the project.

The Sloan Foundation will provide the project, titled “Soft2Rs: An Open Source Tool Package for Linking Research Software Mentions to Research, Repository and Resource Information,” with more than $400,000 over two years

The Sloan Foundation has also supported IRIS with seed funding for the institute’s creation in 2015, resources to help establish a community of IRIS data users in 2017, and a grant in 2020 to study the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on university research.

The ALFRED P. SLOAN FOUNDATION is a not-for-profit, mission-driven grantmaking institution dedicated to improving the welfare of all through the advancement of scientific knowledge. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in four broad areas: direct support of research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics; initiatives to increase the quality, equity, diversity, and inclusiveness of scientific institutions and the science workforce; projects to develop or leverage technology to empower research; and efforts to enhance and deepen public engagement with science and scientists.

The INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH ON INNOVATION AND SCIENCE is a member consortium of universities anchored by an IRB-approved data repository hosted at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. IRIS was founded in 2015 with support from the Alfred P. Sloan and Ewing Marion Kauffman foundations. IRIS collects record level administrative data from its members to produce a de-identified dataset for research and reporting that will improve our ability to understand, explain and improve the public value of research. Its mission is to be a trusted resource for high quality data that supports independent, frontier research on science and innovation in the service of the public interest.